Monday, June 8, 2009

Janet Albrechtsen, Unions in the classroom, gays on the moon and chaplains bringing the children to Jesus

(Above: moral decadence in western civilization. And unions are to blame!)

Caroline Overington catching up on the success of one John Howard program for schools:

God has cured at least one state school student of attention deficit disorder and another of asthma, according to interviews with chaplains employed in 2850 schools under a $165 million federal government program.

The Lord has also made it stop raining at a state school assembly in Queensland and performed other miracles to bring state school children to Jesus.

One chaplain was able to "fix the head" of a disruptive student by placing his hands upon the boy's head, and praying for him.

These and other miraculous claims are included in a book about the national school chaplaincy program, which was introduced by the Howard government in October 2006.

It has led to 2850 chaplains being employed in state and non-government schools. According to new data, 72 per cent of these are working in state government primary and high schools.
Caroline Overington, School chaplains 'worked miracles, December 06, 2008).

Janet Albrechtsen, zooming in from Pluto on a flying visit to Australian schools:

Schools are supposed to be secular and apolitical.

Oh really?

In a statement to The Weekend Australian, the federal Education Department said yesterday 1430 were in primary schools and 670 in high schools. The remainder were in combined schools. The statement said one million students attended schools with a federal government-funded chaplain.

The chaplains have been funded at $20,000 a year until 2010, but the groups that employ them, including Scripture Union, hope Kevin Rudd will extend the program. Under the rules of the program, chaplains are not permitted to actively recruit students to their faith.

But a new book by former Queensland school chaplain Joelle Kabamba speaks openly of miracles in Australian schools.

In the book's foreword, Tim Mander, chief executive of Scripture Union, which has employed more than 700 chaplains for schools in Queensland, Tasmania and the ACT, says: "To have a full-time Christian presence in government schools in this ever-increasing secular world is an unbelievable privilege. Here is the church's opportunity to make a connection with the one place through which every young person must attend: our schools." (Overington, ibid).

Any reaction from Janet Albrechtsen about her demi-god John Howard providing tremendous subsidies for schools with a religious bias, from scientology through the exclusive brethren to the standard catholic and anglican mobs, along with a bunch of evangelicals and islamics? None that we could see, though I'm sure we could get a private schools good, public schools baaad bleat from her from somewhere. And we do have praise from an editorial in The Australian on 31st October 2006:

... those most likely to be pleased by the proposal are parents who, whether they are particularly religious or not, are concerned about the drift away from standards in the classroom. For such people, the presence of a chaplain could be seen as antidote to relativism and as a way to shore up and affirm traditional values against such excesses as the exercise in Queensland that asks students to imagine life in a gay community on the moon.

Imagine that! A gay community on the moon! My favorite lesson always involved those homosexual wooden  puppets who challenged evil under the title Poofterbirds are go.

The Chaplaincy Phenomena describes one Queensland school assembly that took place in driving rain. As the chaplain approached the microphone, "he looked up to the roof and said, 'Could you give us a break, please, Lord?' Immediately the rain stopped and the chaplain went on to speak as if nothing had happened.

"The Year 11 students screamed out, 'No way!' As soon as assembly was over (a student) went running to the chaplain to seek an explanation for what had just happened. The chaplain responded, 'Shaun, mate, I don't know. To be really honest, I didn't expect it but it was worth asking and God came through."' The encounter resulted in Shaun studying Christianity "and leading him on a new journey, walking with God", the book says.

What is most revealing is that in NSW this breathtaking abuse of our school system, and  our school children, passed almost without remark. With the exception of Overington's follow up piece, there has been virtually no media interest and no public outcry that religionists get privileged access to schoolchildren to go on membership drives under the banner of "education".

Oh sorry, got that wrong. Here's Albrechtsen:

What is most revealing is that in NSW this breathtaking abuse of our school system, and our school children, passes almost without remark. With the exception of Hannan’s short piece, there has been virtually no media interest and no public outcry that unions get privileged access to schoolchildren to go on membership drives under the banner of “education”.

Of course. Her piece Hey, unions, leave those kids alone, is all about unions being allowed into schools to explain unions and unionism.

Only 14 to 18 year olds, who might have a mind of their own, but nary a bleat about the shifting to coercive religion in the Howard years.

Now don't get me wrong about unions. One of my prouder boasts is that I've been black banned by a union, treated as a non person and a scab, forced to deal directly with management in the hope that under weight of pressure, I'd just up and give the game away. I didn't and the union lost out, and so it goes.

And most of my working life has been dedicated to the employer side of things, rummaging through awards, playing mind games with unions and the workers, and trying to get jobs done on budget.

On the other hand, knowing how the game works, and understanding that not all employers are christian in the 'throwing the money lenders out of the temple' way of the socialistic Christ, I understand why unions exist and how they can provide a healthy corrective. As always, life is never simple or easy, and blind irrational hostility to unions is as dumb as comradely worship and faith in them as a cure all.

But isn't it interesting that Albrechtsen has only discovered that schools in Australia are no longer secular and apolitical - as if they ever were - as a result of unions hovering into view. Yet it's been a process that accelerated mightily during the Howard years.

Well if the union visits go anything like the visits we used to receive from our fat Irish golf mad priest - after I thankfully transferred from the Dominicans to a public school - the chances of converting anyone to unionism is highly unlikely, given kids have a healthy, cynical wired alert to propaganda and propagandists. Why I'd even let them read Albrechtsen without fumigating their minds immediately.

We used to spend our hour of compulsory indoctrination arguing with the priest and teasing him about the sundry contradictions in the bible, until he eventually gave up and headed to the refuge of the golf course, while the noble band of incipient atheists in the group - touched by the knowledge that we were outcasts, proto papists in a sea of protestants - looked after ourselves and our spiritual needs.

It's typical of Albrechtsen that she imagines kids of the ages 14-18 to be simple minded pawns open to the abuse of union officials, when like as not some dull, incoherent comrade bouncing into the classroom to explain the benefits of unionism will either induce sleep or hostility or a desire to become an anarchist libertarian dedicated to the readings of Ayn Rand.

That's how it was when the bankers turned up to hand out money banks and explain the joys of banking (yes folks it actually happened back in the days when the Commonwealth Bank was a government bank), when instinctively we knew that the banks were the cause of all our misery. It was, as I recall, part of a session to teach us all how to be thrifty Scots and how to sign cheques, so when Albrechtsen starts to yammer about the storm that would greet the Business Council or the Australian Bankers Association fronting schools, she just might like to check how many schools like to interact with all aspects of their community as a way of providing a depth and breadth to their students' understanding of the world around them.

Reading Albrechtsen I always get the impression of someone locked in the cocoon of ideology without much of an understanding of, or an interest in, the way the world actually works. One actual teacher, commenting on her column, tried to introduce the real world:

Er, Janet, at the public school I teach in (and in fact, most public schools I know) members of the business community drop in on a regular basis to talk to the students about what they do.
They even get politicians to talk to students about politics. It will surprise you to know that these politicians belong to political parties and are naturally biased in favour of the party they represent.

Why, only recently I listened to a student group being addressed by a National Party MP and a Liberal MP.

Alas, I didn’t realise that this was a national scandal, a symptom of an out of control Labor government bent on brainwashing innocent kiddies, and neither (apparently) did the members of the press who were present.

I’ll happily accept a ban on unions addressing students if you’ll accept one banning politicians.

Foolish teacher possum. As if reality ever needs to intrude into Albrechtsen's world when she can demonise the unions and rant about thugs and men in balaklavas and the end of prosperity as we know it, as well as the imminent decline and fall of western civilization at the hands of the unions.

Anyhoo, I'll begin to take seriously her campaign about unionists in classrooms when she heads a campaign to stop the funding of private schools with a cult bent (and I put the scientologists and the exclusive brethren at the top of that now long list), as well as a campaign to end the Howard funding of chaplains in public schools. Heck, I'd be even more grateful if she put top of her agenda a plan to make any contact with religion an out of hours thing. 

But I'm not holding my breath. Because when she whinges and whines about the NSW Government politicizing our schools, she's way too late. And worse, lordy, students might even work out that they live in a political society where ranting commentariet columnists are the norm. Now that'd be a revelation for them.

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